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January 5, 2020 - Sengan-an Area - Kagoshima City
After visiting the Shiroyama area of Kagoshima City in the morning, I made my way by bus to the Sengan-en Garden area. My first stop was the Ijinkan or Foreign Engineers Residence which is located very close to the gardens.
This former residence costs 200 yen for entry and during the day would have had spectacular unobstructed views of Sakurajima volcano. This residence is located close to the first cotton mill in Japan - where English engineers came to Japan to share their expertise at the time.
Information on the first floor is totally in Japanese - but a large exhibit upstairs on the Meiji Industrial Revolution is also included in English. Strangely it seems as though I've visited over half of the main sites that have been given UNESCO listing in 2015.
After walking past a 7/11 and Joyful Restaurant, I made my way to Sengan-en and Shoko Shuseikan Museum which costs 1000 yen to enter together. It's basically split up into three different areas. One of the glass making area, one is an extensive museum on the history of Satsuma with annex of old stuff, with the third section being the gardens.
Even on a Sunday, they were making glass and seemed to be used to people taking photos while they worked. You can get quite close and it's relatively interesting.
The building to the right is the main museum telling the story of Satsuma and seems to be a rehash of the Meiji Museum and Reimeikan. On the left is the annex which has old stuff - including some books which were published by the Shimazu clan.
Tsurugane Shrine is located opposite the entrance of the garden. It has some good views of the bay and volcano - but this is also true of this entire area though.
As it is currently winter - the Peonies were out in the garden. They were not that large in number and some have seen their best days - but they were interesting nonetheless.
There are also two restaurants in the garden which are reasonably priced (between 1500 - 3500 yen for a set). The above was a bit under 2000 yen and included nice views of the bay and volcano.
Located just past all of the shops at the entrance - there is a medium sized residence which used to be home to the Shimadzu Lord. It costs 500 yen to enter and there are also Japanese tours a few times a day for those who are interested. There seems to be no need to only be on a tour these days to view the property.
Something that I've started to notice is how rich the merchant class started to become as the Meiji restoration started. Many of the homes I visited in Shiga are younger but seem to be of similar quality.
When I was leaving at a bit after 3pm on a Sunday, the garden has gotten quiet very quickly. The only place still busy was a small rice cake store. These soy or miso rice cakes cost 360 yen for 6 (with tea for as many people as needed it seems) or 500 yen for a coffee and 2 of them. They are nice - but I could not see myself eating 6 of them. It's not possible to buy a smaller amount apart from in the drink combo mentioned.
My last stop for the day was Ishibashi Memorial Park, home to two stone bridges made out of volcanic tuff. It was also strange to see fake rivers below both - but oh well.
If you visit Kagoshima - expect the garden to take around 90 to 120 minutes. The buses are also a great way to visit Kagoshima but it would be possible to visit Sakurajima and the Aquarium if you skipped some of the minor sites that I also visited. For tomorrow, I'll be driving close to Kirishima and then down to the Osumi Peninsula.
Ishibashi Park (http://ppp.seika-spc.co.jp/ishi/)